EVOLVE or Decay Ep. 11: Like Father, Like Daughter

POP & ME (age 6)

I grew up in a home with a father who was a Physical Education professor and speaker, basketball official, marathon runner, entrepreneur, outdoorsman, golf coach and landowner who never seemed to rest- until he’d crash on the sofa on a Sunday, remote in hand, flipping between golf tournaments. What you’d call, in the day, “a man’s man”. My dad instilled in me at a very young age the ultimate value of healthy living, taking care of what you own, helping your neighbors, keeping your word, and not being afraid to dirty and work hard for your income. Every day he dedicated his life to educate, encourage, and inspire folks to live life to its fullest.

Underneath that all, though was the foundational lesson that being disciplined is one of the best values I could ever have.  As he so eloquently would put it, “Don’t drag your a – -.  The light ain’t gonna get any greener.”  Meaning, no one is going to do it for you, so put your head down and go!  Trust me, that line and a few from Coach Krzyzewski are ingrained in my noggin.  Just ask me how 3000 hand-planted Christmas tree samplings can yield 4 years of college tuition! So… for too many years of my life I thought that DISCIPLINE was the THING- the end all be all answer to getting through life or, for that matter, plowing through anything life tossed in your path.

He was the “tough love” parent- the disciplinarian, the taskmaster who kinda raised my sister and me like we WERE little boys. Fifty bucks says, if my mom weren’t such a softer soul I would have definitely grown into a full-on tomboy.  Pop worked our tails off on our 15 acres- always had a list a mile long of things to do- stack wood, mow the acreage, weed the driveway, pick vegetables, paint the shed/the barn/the house-  the one who got our asses out of bed too early on weekend mornings to go on “family jogs”, who limited ALL TV time and always compared my grades to my brilliant sister’s, who only allowed for dessert after sports games, who told me to stand at the end of the driveway with my little wheelbarrow full of extra vegetables from the garden and not come into the house until they were all sold. Everything seemed about w-o-r-k, moving your body, getting really good grades, adding value to the family’s budget, and connecting with neighbors to always be of help.

That said, being a headstrong, curious Aries, just like my pop, he and I used to brunt heads all the time while I was growing up… because I liked to ask WHY before I did something.  Because of this early-born drive, curiosity and creative mind, I definitely created friction. And boy did I make a mess sometimes!

Of course I DO REMEMBER being scared shitless as to what kind of punishment I was going to get for all the times I screwed up- ditched curfew, backed the truck in to the shed, swore or broke something (I inherited a fabulous temper from Pop), pissed my sister off, pissed my mom off… the list is looooong. What’s funny- I don’t remember really crying that much- even with all the hiccups on my part- and the “tough guy” role my dad never seemed to drop. I seemed to keep crying to a minimum- I’d just get in a mood and bottle up my feelings and thoughts. Something that you usually hear about little boys… alas, the man who wanted sons and instead God delivered him two daughters… but this one was just like him.

“Having chats” or communicating- sharing ideas, talking about the future wasn’t really in the MO of our family- least of all between Dad and me.  Downtime didn’t rally up the conversations that we needed as a family- that I needed as a kid- and that my father really could have benefitted from between himself and his daughters. Dad was The Boss, the enforcer, the decision maker. Sadly, though, behind the scenes, he was also the man who thought the world was on his shoulders (if not against him, sometimes), and he was never doing enough for others nor for his family.

As I grew up, and eventually became “my own boss” after college, I earned the freedom to courageously explore any avenues of work, play, and adventure anywhere in the world, on my own terms.  My Dad’s “parenting” certainly diminished, but his discipline, guidance, priceless values and support for my independent nature have remained timeless and timely impressions in my life.

In the most recent decade or so, my relationship with my pop has evolved into something I NEVER would have imagined- it’s almost as if he is working double time to make up for all the conversations we never had- and working to stitch a bond together that HE needs now. His usual M.O. of DISCIPLINE has been eclipsed by the importance of COMMUNICATION. “You gotta communicate, Kimmie,” he says. We talk every week and no topic is ever off limits- weather (of course- he is over 65!), politics, sports- golf is a biggie, stocks, sex, life extension and science. The most challenging one is actually relationships- and we hit on his interactions with his brothers, my sister, his longtime girlfriend, plus my own connections with family, friends, sweethearts and in business too. And we are never too scared to dive deep. Finally, we’re two adults talking like close friends. Still, he’s the father so he has to get on his soapbox one in a while and instruct me: “Communication is the key, Kimmie, always.” But I swear he’s saying it to remind HIMSELF.

So when I visited him last month in FL- something changed again. That trip was the best time I can remember spending with my pop- even when I took him to the Masters a few years ago. Something had finally shifted— his armor finally cracked and I finally felt like I was his confidante. The confidante he’s never really had- the one he’s always wanted but was afraid to reach out to and ask for help. And it was perhaps the most important conversation I could have with my father right now, because we talked about his view of life NOW as a 77 year old- his aspirations, fears, feelings, hesitations, faith… I knew just how to listen empathetically, what questions to ask to get to the root, and what words to offer in compassion and encouragement. And for the 3rd time ever in my life I saw my Pop cry. And so did I… because I saw that all my work on myself, in my own faith, and as a coach helped me get even closer to my father. And that I’ll never forget. Plus he proved what I’ve believed and have said all along: you can choose to never stop evolving- no matter your age!

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and just like Pop, my mission to educate, encourage, and inspire folks to live life to its fullest is the one love that gets me out of bed each day.  Ask anyone to describe Kimberlie Dykeman, and they’ll be sure to list at the top: the most disciplined person they know and a great communicator. To Richard Dykeman, I owe the credit!   Pop, thank you, I love you, chin up always!

Never Stop EVOLVING.  – KD


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